Junckt – the name was borrowed from a track on Garaj Mahal’s album Mondo Garaj – was incubated during a series of jam sessions in 2006. This was a time when Mumbai saw a brief resurgence of nightclubs featuring live music, and the band was soon performing thrice a month. The original sextet came from different musical backgrounds and with a wide spectrum of influences – all the way from the jazz of Lester Young to the rock of Nirvana. This – and the unusual trumpet/ flute/ saxophone section fronting an anchored rhythm section – made for a full-bodied and textured sound that was described as ”jazz, funk and free space”.

Junckt’s repertoire was eclectic and improvised, with a dozen or more original compositions. Sadly there are very few recordings from that time. By 2010, the six original members were treading different musical paths, and Junckt is now a fluid collective that performs less frequently – most recently at Shisha Jazz Café in Pune on May 4  – but with just as much enthusiasm. I still play saxophone with the band. We have turned down more requests for Hotel California than we can remember.

This version of Blue for Her, written by bassist Adi Mistry, was recorded in a home studio in 2006.

Opera House, written by flautist Rajeev Raja, was inspired by the sound of Ganapati processions in the Mumbai neighbourhood where rehearsals often took place.

The bossa-nova Kite, another Junckt original, was composed by guitarist Hitesh Dhutia. It is performed here, in 2010, by Kontraband, which included two Junckt members.

John Coltrane’s Equinox, a Junckt staple, is a brooding and mysterious post-bop minor blues that Coltrane and many others after him have used as an improvisational platform for modal exploration.

St. Thomas from Sonny Rollins’ landmark 1956 album Saxophone Colossus became one of his signature tunes. It has a bright calypso melody, and its bouncy simplicity gives it an instantaneous appeal. With his huge sound, momentum and harmonic subtlety, Rollins demonstrates an astonishing improvising imagination on all the tracks on this album.

Red Baron is a standout track in Billy Cobham’s 1974 jazz-fusion album Spectrum. It has a strong melodic line – played by flute or keyboards for Junckt – and a rock groove, and offers plenty of space for bluesy jazz improvising.

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